National Library of Australia

Browsing subjects from Cook, James, -- 1728-1778

Cook, James, 1728-1779 712
Notes: Captain James Cook was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. He is well known for his significant contribution to the exploration and mapping of the Southern Oceans, and to the science of navigation, during the course of three voyages. James Cook joined the British merchant navy as a teenager and joined the Royal Navy in 1755. He saw action in the Seven Years' War, where his surveys of the entrance to the Saint Lawrence River during the siege of Quebec, brought him to the attention of the Admiralty and Royal Society. In 1768 Cook was given command of HM Bark Endeavour to lead an expedition to observe the transit of Venus and to ascertain whether a continent existed in the southern latitudes. After observing the transit of Venus in Tahiti, Cook circumnavigated and mapped the islands of New Zealand, then sailed on to and surveyed the east coast of Australia. His explorations, particularly of Botany Bay, played a significant role in the later decision to establish a colony in New South Wales. He was also able to confirm that the Australian continent was not joined to New Guinea, as shown on most maps of the time. Cook's second Voyage (1772-1775), with the ships Resolution and Adventure, circumnavigated the globe further south than any ship had been before, again in search of the great southern continent. He became one of the first to cross the Antarctic Circle, almost touching on the continent of Antarctica. Cook's third voyage (1776-1779), again aboard the Resolution, was undertaken to locate and map a Northwest Passage around the American continent. Though he was unsuccessful in locating the North-West passage, Cook discovered and surveyed the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), and explored and charted the Pacific coasts of North America and Siberia. Returning to the Sandwich Islands, Cook was killed there on 14 February, 1779. Cook was married to Elizabeth Batts (1742-1832?)
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